Author Topic: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?  (Read 46572 times)

bikebum

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Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« on: August 30, 2013, 02:13:39 AM »
Edit: I didn't realize this would be interpreted so seriously/negatively when I wrote it. Try to think of a couple having a little fun debating about living expenses when you read it. We don't take money matters personally.

Here's a tough one:

I bought a house about 6 months ago with 20% down.  I am 27 and have a stable income. My gf is younger and does not yet have a stable income. We both live in my house. We are not married, but have been together for 4 years and are planning to stay together for life. I think it's fair that she pay half of the living expenses when she can afford to. When she's not able to because of tuition or other expenses I don't expect her to. The mortgage is under $700 a month, so I think half is a very good deal; it'd probably cost her more to find a room to rent on her own. And that is about what I would ask if I were to rent out one of the bedrooms, which I sort of wanted to do but she talked me out of it. She doesn't like the idea of paying "rent" to her boyfriend; understandable. And she pointed out that if we break up in the future, she will have contributed to the mortgage but will not own any of the house. Should I keep track of how much she contributes to the principal part of the payments and grant her ownership on that much? Is that even possible? What if the value of the house changes? Would her ownership be based on percentage (contributions/purchase price) or just dollars towards principal? If it's a percentage, if we split up I could have to buy her out at a higher price than she contributed, assuming the house value goes up. I am definitely not giving her half, then if we split I could end up having to buy my house almost 1.5 times! What is a fair way to handle this? Maybe I should just pay the whole mortgage and have her just split the utilities and groceries.

More edits: Some people have interpreted this as my gf wanting a "free ride", which was not the case. Her concern was being asked to pay half the living expenses but not gain any home equity. With some advice I received from this forum, we agreed on her paying a discounted rent based on what it would cost to live alone, which seems the most fair for both of us. This has worked great ever since, happy happy joy joy :)

I am not responding to any more posts. I'm not upset, just takes too much time. Every time I do a new post, someone posts something and I feel the need to explain myself better. Probably my bad for putting personal stuff on here. So this is the last time; I'd rather be out biking. Thanks for participating in my post everyone, peace out!
« Last Edit: February 01, 2014, 08:01:17 AM by Josh »

Half-Borg

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2013, 02:18:58 AM »
I would not split the house. You never know what happens and there is no need going into divorce-like trouble when you are not even married.
(Might be hard to break to her)
But I also think it's unfair to have her pay principal, so I would just split utilities, groceries and maybe interest. So you save on expenses and can continue to own your house. Granted you would save more by having a roommate, but if she's smart, she saves her surplus and if you eventually get married your family is richer either way.

bikebum

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2013, 02:29:43 AM »

I would not split the house. You never know what happens and there is no need going into divorce-like trouble when you are not even married.
(Might be hard to break to her)
But I also think it's unfair to have her pay principal, so I would just split utilities, groceries and maybe interest. So you save on expenses and can continue to own your house. Granted you would save more by having a roommate, but if she's smart, she saves her surplus and if you eventually get married your family is richer either way.
I like it. Didn't think about asking her to just split the interest and leave the principal out of it; good idea.

Vitai Slade

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2013, 02:58:35 AM »
I have my own place as well and though it might be a hard thing to break it to them, I would absolutely NOT give them ANY ownership of the house. Heard too many horror stories about this kinda stuff. If my partner were to live with me, they would be paying 'rent' to me as any roommate would, they just happen to be my partner as well. Depending on situation, you may charge them less or may not, but your house is your house. That mortgage is in your name and you are the one taking on the burden of the debt. They can jump ship at any time they want. That is WHY people rent in the first place.

I will not share finances with a partner. I know a couple that has been together for years that splits their finances this way. Even when they go out to eat they still split the bill. It works great for them. Also, when you control your own finances, you have less arguments about money and how/where to spend it.

If you still are holding the mortgage, I would at LEAST charge for half the interes and utilities and such, but it'd be even better if a bit extra was added to that for maintenance costs and such. That will silently eat away at any home purchase over time.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 03:00:35 AM by Vitai Slade »

Paul der Krake

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2013, 03:20:07 AM »
What would you charge a roommate if he was a stranger found on Craigslist?

Take that number, apply a generous girlfriend discount, and charge her that. Like you pointed out, she should still come out ahead. The fact that she has been paying for part of your mortgage, or the mortage amount for that matter, is irrelevant. Renters with a live-in landlord aren't entitled to home equity either.


jrhampt

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2013, 06:19:01 AM »
She doesn't like the idea of paying "rent" to her boyfriend; understandable. And she pointed out that if we break up in the future, she will have contributed to the mortgage but will not own any of the house. Should I keep track of how much she contributes to the principal part of the payments and grant her ownership on that much? Is that even possible?

Why should she get to live in the house for free, though?  If it was anywhere else, she'd be paying rent, and as Paul said, she wouldn't be getting any equity.  She didn't contribute to the down payment, and she probably wouldn't have qualified for a home loan given her income history.  Does she expect a free ride just because she's your girlfriend?  No.  The house is yours, and she should be paying her fair share of living expenses.  This would be a red flag for me.  I would not put her name on the mortgage or split ownership in any other way.

Giving her equity without having her name on the mortgage is even worse, because it allows her to reap the rewards of home ownership without sharing in the risk.  And for her to object to renting out a room in *your* property when she's not carrying her fair share of living expenses?  Balls!  I am outraged on your behalf.  Maybe you should explain to her how the world works.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 06:29:20 AM by jrhampt »

Vitai Slade

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2013, 06:57:03 AM »
She doesn't like the idea of paying "rent" to her boyfriend; understandable. And she pointed out that if we break up in the future, she will have contributed to the mortgage but will not own any of the house. Should I keep track of how much she contributes to the principal part of the payments and grant her ownership on that much? Is that even possible?

Why should she get to live in the house for free, though?  If it was anywhere else, she'd be paying rent, and as Paul said, she wouldn't be getting any equity.  She didn't contribute to the down payment, and she probably wouldn't have qualified for a home loan given her income history.  Does she expect a free ride just because she's your girlfriend?  No.  The house is yours, and she should be paying her fair share of living expenses.  This would be a red flag for me.  I would not put her name on the mortgage or split ownership in any other way.

Giving her equity without having her name on the mortgage is even worse, because it allows her to reap the rewards of home ownership without sharing in the risk.  And for her to object to renting out a room in *your* property when she's not carrying her fair share of living expenses?  Balls!  I am outraged on your behalf.  Maybe you should explain to her how the world works.

+1 THIS ^^^^ x 1000

Peony

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2013, 07:01:47 AM »
Maybe she could be solely responsible for one or two of the household bills, and you could be solely responsible for the housing expense? For instance, maybe she could have the electricity and Internet accounts in her name. It would amount to the pretty much the same thing, monetarily speaking, as her paying some rent to you, but just might feel a bit less cold-blooded.

jrhampt

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2013, 07:11:23 AM »
I would not split the house. You never know what happens and there is no need going into divorce-like trouble when you are not even married.
(Might be hard to break to her)
But I also think it's unfair to have her pay principal, so I would just split utilities, groceries and maybe interest. So you save on expenses and can continue to own your house. Granted you would save more by having a roommate, but if she's smart, she saves her surplus and if you eventually get married your family is richer either way.

How is it unfair to have her pay principal?  If you have a rental house, when your tenants pay the rent, it is paying your mortgage.  How is this any different?  And he *does* have a roommate, she just happens to be his girlfriend also.  She should feel supremely lucky that he's not expecting her to pay for her share of the expenses until her income catches up to his, not be whining about how she doesn't get any equity in the house.

FIence!

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2013, 07:33:41 AM »
You say: "We are not married, but have been together for 4 years and are planning to stay together for life."
She says: "if we break up in the future, she will have contributed to the mortgage but will not own any of the house."

You want to rent out one of the bedrooms in the house YOU own.
She talks you out of making money, while she is not an owner of the house and then doesn't like the idea of paying rent herself either.

Huh. 

I think there is more you need to think about here than what a fair financial situation for her is. You say she is "younger," which leads me to believe we're not just talking about she's 26 and you're 27. How old is she? Has she ever rented on her own, or did she move straight from having her parents support to having you support her?

It already sounds like you are giving her tons of leeway in when and how much she pays you. This is GENEROUS. She is acting like it's not. This is a huge, huge red flag. I know we are supposed to be looking at the financial angle of this situation, but in many relationships financial arrangements and emotional feelings don't just get tangled up, they mirror each other. Look at other aspects of your relationship and see if there is a pattern: Are you always taking her out to eat, paying for all of the dates, buying her gifts and not getting the same in return? I am not saying she should be matching your gifts/dates/etc. dollar for dollar, just in spirit. So if you buy her a purse or ipod or something for christmas, does she buy you a book she knows you'll like, or does she give you nothing because she's "broke"? If you take her to a nice dinner, the next time you go out does she offer to spring for ice cream, or are you straight to another nice dinner on your dime?

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2013, 08:32:30 AM »
You say: "We are not married, but have been together for 4 years and are planning to stay together for life."
She says: "if we break up in the future, she will have contributed to the mortgage but will not own any of the house."

That's what I heard too.

If she is living with you in your house, that is your choice. But just have her pitch in on groceries and utilities. Don't put anything in her name at all.... don't be silly. I'm 39, been down that road. Keep things separate... if its right, she's do anything and be happy to live there.

I personally would not charge her rent at all. None. Just let her pay a few bills and split the food.

limeandpepper

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2013, 08:43:12 AM »
I agree with the others.

Someone who pays rent is paying for a roof over their head, not for ownership of the place. She doesn't like the idea of paying rent to her boyfriend? Is she suggesting she lives there for nothing? So what if by paying rent she's indirectly contributing to the mortgage? If she rents elsewhere, she's contributing to someone's mortgage too, or their investment accounts if the house is already paid off. Oh, and if she wants to talk about breaking up - if she doesn't pay rent, and things don't work out for you two, there are all those years of extra income you could've had from renting out the rooms in your house that's gone, so will she reimburse you for that? I doubt it. I hope she has offered a fair solution - otherwise it's a show of entitlement which is not on.

As has been mentioned, you could suss out the market rate and apply a discount so she pays a reduced rent. OR, she doesn't pay rent, but she brings value in some other way e.g. does a bigger share of household duties, and you rent out one of the extra bedrooms to someone else to help you financially. If she doesn't think it's fair, she can feel free to live somewhere else and pay more for it. And you can get a housemate and get more rent. I know you can't put a price on a relationship, but compatible attitudes are important and perhaps this the test.

I'd also recommend you check out the legalities of it all to protect yourself - here in Australia, for example, a couple living together for a certain period of time is considered as married, and if the breakup is not amicable, the fight over assets can get messy.

AlmostIndependent

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2013, 08:57:51 AM »
I agree with the others.

Someone who pays rent is paying for a roof over their head, not for ownership of the place. She doesn't like the idea of paying rent to her boyfriend? Is she suggesting she lives there for nothing? So what if by paying rent she's indirectly contributing to the mortgage? If she rents elsewhere, she's contributing to someone's mortgage too, or their investment accounts if the house is already paid off. Oh, and if she wants to talk about breaking up - if she doesn't pay rent, and things don't work out for you two, there are all those years of extra income you could've had from renting out the rooms in your house that's gone, so will she reimburse you for that? I doubt it. I hope she has offered a fair solution - otherwise it's a show of entitlement which is not on.

As has been mentioned, you could suss out the market rate and apply a discount so she pays a reduced rent. OR, she doesn't pay rent, but she brings value in some other way e.g. does a bigger share of household duties, and you rent out one of the extra bedrooms to someone else to help you financially. If she doesn't think it's fair, she can feel free to live somewhere else and pay more for it. And you can get a housemate and get more rent. I know you can't put a price on a relationship, but compatible attitudes are important and perhaps this the test.

I'd also recommend you check out the legalities of it all to protect yourself - here in Australia, for example, a couple living together for a certain period of time is considered as married, and if the breakup is not amicable, the fight over assets can get messy.

This is all excellent advice. Take it from someone who knows.

kt

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2013, 09:13:19 AM »
if you go down the utilities route perhaps you could recommend she puts the equivalent of rent away each month in a high-interest account/investments. that way if you get married she could be added to the deeds/mortgage and pay off a chunk of the principal or if you split she has a down-payment saved (plus is in the habit of making sufficient space in her budget for rent).

Spork

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2013, 09:16:43 AM »

Count me as in agreement.  She shouldn't get equity and should pay some share.

I do think splitting it halfway is probably not a good way to go... both from "fairness" and from the point that this is probably not good for the relationship. 

Assuming you are planning on being together for life:  I'd split everything proportional to your salaries.  For example, if you make $2000/mo and she makes $1000/mo, I'd split it all 2/3 -- 1/3.  This makes it a fairly equal load on each of you.

Samsam

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2013, 09:17:39 AM »
This is interesting because my GF and I are about to be in the same kind of situation, as I am buying a house and she will be living there with me.  The difference is that she is willing to pay rent but I don't feel right having her pay half of my rent when I make 4x as much money as her.  Since she is not just some roommate and I want to build a future (and financial future) with her I am trying to break up the expenses by our income level.  So if our electric bill costs $100, she would pay 25 and I would pay 75 kind of thing.  Actually I am wondering about what other MMM'ers thing about this kind of strategy? 

My parents echoed Mr Macinstache's advice on not having her pay rent in the chance there is a breakup.  I mean you will have no rental agreement with her and if she is putting down some principal...I have no idea where that leaves either of you. 

Another aside, I did not even expect my GF to offer to pay rent because I know if she was on her own she wouldn't even consider renting in a place like where I am buying...yet I want her to live with me.  Would your GF rent in a place you are buying your house? 

Insanity

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2013, 09:17:47 AM »
Have you talked to her more about why she feels that way?  I have to be honest, I am a bit "old fashioned" and when my fiancÚ moved into the townhouse I purchased, I never thought of asking her for money for it.  I always viewed it as ours.  Of course, she also offered to pay expenses and put some of the utilities in her name so that she did pay some of the bills.  Heck, even after we got married and she was unemployed we fought because I told her she didn't have to work just any job and could wait till she found what she wanted or go back to school if she wanted to do something else.

Are you planning on getting married to her or just living together?  As pointed out, common law marriages do exist, so be aware you may fall into that category at some point regardless of the path taken. 

Peter

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2013, 09:28:51 AM »
if you go down the utilities route perhaps you could recommend she puts the equivalent of rent away each month in a high-interest account/investments. that way if you get married she could be added to the deeds/mortgage and pay off a chunk of the principal or if you split she has a down-payment saved (plus is in the habit of making sufficient space in her budget for rent).

So if they stay together she gets half the house, and if she leaves she gets to take the money and run? Sounds like a great deal for the OP! lol

Paul der Krake

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2013, 09:37:29 AM »
Have you talked to her more about why she feels that way?  I have to be honest, I am a bit "old fashioned" and when my fiancÚ moved into the townhouse I purchased, I never thought of asking her for money for it.  I always viewed it as ours.  Of course, she also offered to pay expenses and put some of the utilities in her name so that she did pay some of the bills.
The fact that you were engaged at that point is one hell of a difference. Sure, weddings are called off all the time, but charging your fiance rent would be insulting for most people. It's not called a relationship milestone for nothing. ;)

BlueMR2

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2013, 09:53:34 AM »
It's your house and she's still just a girlfriend.  There's no way I'd let her own part of it.  I'd either let her stay for free, or charge her a reasonable rent.  *If* (I don't know your exact situation, so this may not apply to your situation at all, but worst case...) we couldn't come to an agreement on with either of those, that relationship would be over.  I'd say that about 1 out of every 10 women I've met are ones that I consider reasonable GF material.  Any one that brings up unreasonable requests is gone.  Life's too short to get stuck with someone that wants things they're not entitled to yet (and until your married, she's not entitled to your house in any way, she's in a "friend" (albeit very close) state).

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2013, 09:58:13 AM »
The idea of collecting is just a bad idea. It's your GF, not a roomate. Drop the rent idea all together. Let her pitch in other ways.

Before I married my wife and we lived together the thought never crossed my mind once. She helped out with bills, food and helped with chores around the house. When two people want to be together the money should never come into play.

totoro

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2013, 10:04:27 AM »
She is coming from a weird place imo by wanting part of the house equity if you break up if she pays rent.  That is a bit of a red flag.  It is not reasonable imo and shows a sense of entitlement without adequate understanding of fairness/cost of living. 


Spork

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #22 on: August 30, 2013, 10:06:01 AM »
The idea of collecting is just a bad idea. It's your GF, not a roomate. Drop the rent idea all together. Let her pitch in other ways.

Before I married my wife and we lived together the thought never crossed my mind once. She helped out with bills, food and helped with chores around the house. When two people want to be together the money should never come into play.

So... I really like the tone of this... and I really get where you're coming from.   The problem is... money always comes into play.  It's part of life and it's part of relationships. 

This might work just fine... or it might not.  But money dynamics need to be understood by both sides and worked out.

It's really unromantic... but in the end marriage is really a business partnership.  Sure, for some people it's religious and (hopefully for all people) there is a serious romantic commitment involved.   But: it's still a business partnership.  The terms of that partnership need to be explicitly understood by both sides or ... expectations won't be met, feelings will be hurt, etc.

FIence!

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2013, 10:31:31 AM »
When two people want to be together the money should never come into play.

Well, sure. When two people WANT to be together. But as we saw, he is thinking they will always be together, she is already entertaining the idea of breaking up at some point.

It's a point worth making that there are tons of people in the world who are more than happy to "be with" someone when things are smooth sailing and the benefit is weighted toward them. I am not saying she is taking advantage of the situation--I don't know her, only the OP does--but I am saying that there are red flags that should not be ignored. There is a world of difference between not being able to pay rent and just not wanting to because she somehow feels entitled to live there for free.

StarryC

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2013, 10:40:54 AM »
So if our electric bill costs $100, she would pay 25 and I would pay 75 kind of thing. 

I think this is a way plenty of families do it.  It's the way couples who put all the money in a joint account and then take allowances do it, they just don't state it that way.  It's also a way to resolve the issue of really unequal income.  If X could afford a rent of $1,500 a month, and Y could only afford rent of $500 a month, they can either live in a $1,000 a month unit so they share "equally" or live in a $2000 a month unit and share "equitably." Yes, some people might feel like X is being "taken advantage of" but presumably X is in on the bargain, and Y contributes to X's happiness in other ways. 

To the OP: If you really are planning to be together forever, then everything you each bring in contributes to the family's wealth, and everything that goes out decreases it.  This is especially true when married in a community property state.  The problem with this plan is that you don't have the legal protections/system of marriage right now.  If you were married, you wouldn't need to grant her ownership in any other way, if you got divorced the Judge would work it out then.  If not, then when you sell the house the money would of course go in to the family fund.  If you don't see your economic futures as inexorably linked, then you probably aren't "planning to be together forever."  If she and you think of the money as "rent" rather than contributing to the household's expenses, that is a problem.  This is not "breakup worthy" to me, but it is a "fish or cut bait" moment.  Either legally recognize your joint financial status, or realize you don't want to do that.  If you don't want to, she'll probably break up with you!

As for "rent": I know several people with long term roommates renting in their owned house.  None of them have any equity.  They pay "fair market" rent which could be more or less than 50% of the mortgage+ taxes+ insurance.  As renters, they could move out with 30 days notice and not need to worry about selling the house.  When things break, they don't pay to fix them. 

BoulderTC

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #25 on: August 30, 2013, 10:41:39 AM »
I don't know the right answer. I could agree with almost any of the replies above for various reasons. This is definitely not a clear cut situation.

BUT, I just wanted to say that it seems that a lot of the red flags would disappear if marriage or engagement was on the horizon. Seems there might be more to this than financials. If there's a reason why you're not talking about engagement/marriage, but you are talking about splitting ownership of a house ... you might want to dive into that. Same goes for why she'd be offended if you charged her money to live in your house without ownership. Seems there might be some root causes here that are being overlooked, and that the financial situation might sort itself out when you get to the bottom of the whole thing.

I would have never considered splitting ownership of a house with anyone but my husband. But luckily, by the time we bought a house we were married, and it is completely understood that we both contribute and we're investing in our life together.

minimalist

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2013, 10:44:11 AM »
The idea of collecting is just a bad idea. It's your GF, not a roomate. Drop the rent idea all together. Let her pitch in other ways.

Before I married my wife and we lived together the thought never crossed my mind once. She helped out with bills, food and helped with chores around the house. When two people want to be together the money should never come into play.

Maybe if you have a 50s mindset. Many women these days make as much or more than their partners.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 10:45:43 AM by minimalist »

EMP

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #27 on: August 30, 2013, 10:48:28 AM »
Another aside, I did not even expect my GF to offer to pay rent because I know if she was on her own she wouldn't even consider renting in a place like where I am buying...yet I want her to live with me.  Would your GF rent in a place you are buying your house? 

This is a good point. 

She is coming from a weird place imo by wanting part of the house equity if you break up if she pays rent.  That is a bit of a red flag.  It is not reasonable imo and shows a sense of entitlement without adequate understanding of fairness/cost of living. 



What if they got married and then divorced?  Then she will have contributed, but the house wouldn't be considered a joint asset.  Unless I'm wrong about that.

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #28 on: August 30, 2013, 11:22:09 AM »
The idea of collecting is just a bad idea. It's your GF, not a roomate. Drop the rent idea all together. Let her pitch in other ways.

Before I married my wife and we lived together the thought never crossed my mind once. She helped out with bills, food and helped with chores around the house. When two people want to be together the money should never come into play.

Maybe if you have a 50s mindset. Many women these days make as much or more than their partners.

Ok, but they aren't married.

kh

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #29 on: August 30, 2013, 11:25:45 AM »
Splitting household expenses proportionally by income has worked well for my boyfriend and me. I make about 5 times what he does (he's currently in grad school), so Rent=5x+1x. Solve for x to get his share.

Two people living together, married or no, should both be contributing to the household. Unless something substantial and non-monetary is being contributed (most often child care from a stay-at-home spouse), both parties need to pony up and pay some bills to avoid resentment by one party over having to eat all the costs. Call it rent, make it the bills, whatever, but there's no such thing as a free lunch.

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #30 on: August 30, 2013, 11:33:58 AM »
How about just ask her what she feels is the right thing to do?

mustacheme

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #31 on: August 30, 2013, 11:47:19 AM »
I highly recommend that you neither verbally, in writing or in any other way give your girlfriend the impression that you will give her equity in your home for living with you. That sounds like a Judge Judy episode waiting to happen.

I agree with others who have pointed out that if she was living with or renting from anyone else (potentially even some parents) she would be paying a certain amount each month, and that money might be going toward that person's mortgage or investment income.

I purchased my home while living with a boyfriend. We had been together for 2 1/2 years and planned to get married in another couple of years from the time I purchased. We had even rented together for a little over a year before I purchased. All that considered, we still kept the purchase in my name only, and he contributed to household expenses including what we agreed to be a reasonable amount of "rent" or household expenses, or whatever you want to call them in name. We calculated the amount by taking approximately 1/2 of what he would have been paying if he were to rent in the area.

Fast forward 8 years, and that relationship is long over, and I now live with my current boyfriend. We've been together 2 years, and plan to be together forever. When he moved in we calculated a fair amount based on what he would approximately be paying if we were to be renting together, and he contributes that amount each month for household expenses.

I think it is completely reasonable to expect her to contribute to the household expenses, and part of those expenses are keeping a roof over your heads, rather you own that roof or someone else owns that roof.

I know nothing more than what you described in your post, but her attitude towards contributing toward the household expenses seems to show a lack of maturity and responsibility. If you don't want to charge her anything for household expenses, that is your decision. However, living rent free is not something that a mature, self-efficient adult should expect.

ioseftavi

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #32 on: August 30, 2013, 11:59:33 AM »
How about just ask her what she feels is the right thing to do?

This is a really, really good idea.  Don't go setting boundaries or slamming her into the pavement if it's not necessary.  I would just explain to her, "Listen, I've been thinking - I would really like to rent out the spare bedroom, but I don't feel comfortable doing that when the two of us are living here.  I know you don't have your career as nailed down as I do yet, and that's OK.  But I feel like you should be involved, even if it's just a little, with helping with the expenses each month.  On the flip side...I don't want to legally mess around with the ownership of the house.  On the chance that something happens with us, that could be a mess!  What do you think we should do?"

Be patient, be cool, and shut the f*** up and listen to her response.  You've been dating this girl for four years.  If you're not committed to marrying her yet, her answer to this question will probably shed some light on how she thinks about money and what is "fair".  I would say you should listen to her suggestions and then take it from there (including saying something like, "OK, I just wanted your opinion.  We can revisit this another time once I've thought it through a little better.").  Again, don't be needlessly mean or demanding - use this as an opportunity to find out more about how your girlfriend thinks of money and how expenses should be split.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 12:01:32 PM by ioseftavi »

kt

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #33 on: August 30, 2013, 12:43:00 PM »
if you go down the utilities route perhaps you could recommend she puts the equivalent of rent away each month in a high-interest account/investments. that way if you get married she could be added to the deeds/mortgage and pay off a chunk of the principal or if you split she has a down-payment saved (plus is in the habit of making sufficient space in her budget for rent).

So if they stay together she gets half the house, and if she leaves she gets to take the money and run? Sounds like a great deal for the OP! lol

several people are suggesting she contributes just to utilities, as i have here. i'm just suggesting a way of her feeling like she isn't 'just renting' (i.e. not moving towards home ownership).
perhaps i'm odd but i consider things within marriage (or i guess long-term stable live-in relationships) jointly owned so regardless of the route they take regarding this, i'd expect her to 'get' half the house if they stay together.
and if they break up, well the money was hers all along (assuming she contributes to utilities or whatever else as agreed) so what has the op lost? bar the rent several other people are suggesting he forgoes anyway (which i admit could be considerable)

jrhampt

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #34 on: August 30, 2013, 12:53:45 PM »
Have you talked to her more about why she feels that way?  I have to be honest, I am a bit "old fashioned" and when my fiancÚ moved into the townhouse I purchased, I never thought of asking her for money for it.  I always viewed it as ours.  Of course, she also offered to pay expenses and put some of the utilities in her name so that she did pay some of the bills.
The fact that you were engaged at that point is one hell of a difference. Sure, weddings are called off all the time, but charging your fiance rent would be insulting for most people. It's not called a relationship milestone for nothing. ;)
It's not "charging your fiance rent"; it's two people sharing living expenses.  Why would it be insulting to anyone to expect them to function financially as part of the team?  Some of these responses are crazy to me.  If the genders were reversed and it was the boyfriend crashing for free at the girlfriend's place, wouldn't he be viewed as a freeloader?  So is she, if she's not contributing her share.  I do agree with one of the posters above who proposes pro-rating bills based on relative income; that could be an acceptable strategy.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 12:58:24 PM by jrhampt »

Paul der Krake

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #35 on: August 30, 2013, 01:16:29 PM »
@jrhampt, you're right. It's absolutely expected to have two engaged people share the burden of keeping a roof over their heads, but the monetary aspect changes. It is a move from landlord-tenant relationship (with benefits) to a full partnership.

Obviously, not all couples work the same, YMMV, etc.

CommonCents

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #36 on: August 30, 2013, 02:14:11 PM »
I'm in the "girlfriend discount" camp.

I don't think she should gain equity in the house (particularly if she's not also responsible for the debt!).  However, it is true you picked the place and correspondingly determined the cost of living (housing is one big factor, which she had no control over).  Not to mention she's not a roommate - she's sharing a room with you for one, she doesn't have her own room/space.  (I get the whole house is yours, I just am envisioning you moving in a roommate, who would pay you rent, well it wouldn't be fair to have her pay the same amount in that case in my mind.)  And you clearly want her to with you, so you should be willing to give up a little as well.
 
I like ioseftavi suggestions for opening up a conversation.  I'd prepare beforehand though and figure out how much it would cost for her to live on her own or with roommates (how much did her rent cost before?).  I'd then figure out the costs beyond mortage principle including: utilities, mortgage interest, taxes, maintenance.  Somewhere around there or halfway between it and what it'd cost her on her own is probably reasonable.

I moved in with my now-husband.  He owns the place mortgage-free.  I had lost my job and we were actually anti-mustachian in waiting so long to move in together, because I didn't want to move in JUST because I lost my job (I had a lot of savings so I could support myself), so I waited excessively and extra long to make sure that wasn't the case and we were on the path to engagement.  (I had a prior relationship where we moved in together too quickly.)  I would have been willing to pay a whole lot more, but because I didn't have a job - and he didn't have mortgage costs - he insisted on continuing to pay for condo fees, taxes, and some utilities as he'd have those costs regardless of whether or not I was in there.  I took over the most expensive bill, for cable and internet because I was able to negotiate a substantially lower rate on mine than I could on his.  I also paid for most groceries, because I was trying to get us to eat at home more often.  Still am.  I also spent a lot of time learning to coupon and building a stockpile for us.  But we worked all of that out in advance.

P.S.  ...why wasn't this worked out before she moved in?

Samsam

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #37 on: August 30, 2013, 02:25:48 PM »
P.S.  ...why wasn't this worked out before she moved in?

Oh snap, yea I did not even catch that.  If she moved in with you under the assumption she wouldn't be paying rent and it would just be the two of you living there, and then you dropped the info about a roommate / rent...well...she may have just stayed where she was living before.  Again assuming some things but only you and her know all of the details in between. 

bikebum

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #38 on: August 30, 2013, 07:25:25 PM »
Wow, lots of enthusiastic comments! I will take everybody's advice about not making her a co-owner; seems it would be a big mistake and I don't even know how to do that or how to handle if the home value changes.

I think I should defend my girlfriend a little; I may have given some of you the wrong idea. My girlfriend is very loving and at least as optimistic about our future as I am. We both just want to plan for the unexpected and avoid getting screwed, in the bad way, haha. She happily treats me to dinners and such when she can afford to. She definitely matches gifts "in spirit".

She is not seeking a free ride. She wants to pay what is fair, but doesn't like calling it "rent". Right now we are just having a conversation; no arguing at this point. We lived together first at my parents, then an apartment while she was going to the junior college in town. Then she transferred to a university and rented a room in the city there since she had class 5 days a week and it is 1.5 hrs drive from where I live. I bought the house during her winter break. We wanted to live together, but she was stuck in the lease and couldn't get someone to take her spot. She moved in with me anyway and commuted 3 days a week. I didn't ask her to pay anything since she was still having to pay rent for the room. Her lease ended in May. I told her while she's in school to just contribute what she can afford. I figure if we stay together this will be a good investment and I am willing to take the risk that we don't. She decided to take a break from school this year, so we agreed she could pay half since it is not any more than what she would pay renting something minimal on her own. Then she talked to a family member who convinced her this wasn't fair and she brought up the subject with me.

I am not sure what we will do about marriage. She goes back and forth about wanting it and I am indifferent about it other than the financial stuff. I don't think it would change the non-financial parts of our relationship; well it might because finances may impact the other parts. If we do get married, it won't be for a while because she would probably not be able to get grant money for school if she had to count my income. I don't think this is weasily of us because it shouldn't be my responsibility to pay for her education. I also don't think I would like lumping finances with someone. She spends money on silly things and gets traffic tickets and is not as good as I am with money. I know I will probably have to pay for some of it one way or another, but I want to keep the accounting separate. I am excited to share every other part of my life with her, she is fantastic and I love her! And she is getting better at the money stuff. Taking my advice and rent-free living, she saved up and paid cash for a used, fuel-efficient car. I didn't ask her to pay home expenses while she was saving for the car because I thought it was great, and I will benefit from low cost road trips with my lover!

I understand her concerns about the home equity. Say we don't get married and in 20 years we break up. She may have contributed a lot and own nothing, when she could have bought her own house and been paying it off. But I don't want to risk having to buy a big chunk of my house back when I could have had rental income, or for some reason her share ends up bigger than her contributions.

Right now I'm leaning towards us figuring out what she would spend living on her own, then giving a girlfriend discount of, I don't know, 20%? We could revisit this later when she has stable income. Thanks for the advice!

Anyone know what happens in CA if you enter a marriage with a mortgage? I know property acquired before marriage is separate, but I would be using my after marriage wages to pay for it. What are the protections of marriage some of you speak of? I thought legally each person gets half of everything, which sounds bad for me.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 07:35:29 PM by Josh »

CommonCents

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #39 on: August 30, 2013, 07:49:05 PM »
Josh, I think in CA if you contribute to a house during marriage (in other words, pay the mortgage - or even put a lot of work into renovating it) with funds from money earned during marriage, then yes, it can be considered community property.  But you should talk to a licensed lawyer in your state about it.

**Please note, this is not legal advice.  I am NOT licensed in California and I am not a family law attorney**

If you are truly contemplating living together for 20+ years and not getting married, then I can see your girlfriend's perspective better.  In that case, perhaps buying a house together - WITH A CONTRACT and equal downpayments, sharing risk and reward, etc - would be something to contemplate in the future.  But right now you aren't sure what you will do in a few years, and equity in a house may not even be beneficial for her loans, so I would hold pat for now.

You say it's not your responsibility to pay for her education, which tweaks a chord badly in my mind.  No, it's not your responsibility, it's her choice and her education, but if you are planning a long-term relationship with someone, you accept that you may pay for them if something happens to their health, job, etc.  (And if you have kids, share in raising them.)  So it's concerning to me how you phrase it and want to avoid responsibility.  Marriage (and even long-term relationships) are about accepting responsibility for each other.

Hopefully you can help her get in a better spot with her finances, where she doesn't get parking tickets anymore, and you'll be less concerned about becoming financial partners down the road.

StarryC

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #40 on: August 30, 2013, 08:15:41 PM »
Again, not qualified legal advice: But, I think California has even had some "Pal-imony" cases, where being in a non-marriage relationship with someone for a long time can result in some divorce-like asset splits. I think Liberace might have been involved in such a way?

The "protections" of marriage are for the lower earning spouse.  They also are usually more relevant when children are involved.

Daleth

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #41 on: August 30, 2013, 08:54:41 PM »
This is interesting because my GF and I are about to be in the same kind of situation, as I am buying a house and she will be living there with me.  The difference is that she is willing to pay rent but I don't feel right having her pay half of my rent when I make 4x as much money as her.  Since she is not just some roommate and I want to build a future (and financial future) with her I am trying to break up the expenses by our income level.  So if our electric bill costs $100, she would pay 25 and I would pay 75 kind of thing.  Actually I am wondering about what other MMM'ers thing about this kind of strategy? 

That's what we do too. I earn 2x as much as my husband so he pays 1/3 of all bills, I pay 2/3. It was my idea. My reasoning was that this way we are both spending the same amount of TIME paying for things--in other words if it takes me a week's work to pay my part of the mortgage, it also takes him a week's work.

To me, equal amounts of TIME seems like a much more fair way to divvy things up than making us spend equal amounts of MONEY. If we earned the same, of course, we'd both be spending equal amounts of time and money, but we don't earn the same, so we have to pick which of those two things to split equally. And as we all know, even though we cackle in a Mustachian manner every time we save six bucks on a phone bill or whatever, time is much more valuable than money. Time is everything, the only thing we have. So that's the thing we'll split equally.

bikebum

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #42 on: August 30, 2013, 09:07:05 PM »
You say it's not your responsibility to pay for her education, which tweaks a chord badly in my mind.  No, it's not your responsibility, it's her choice and her education, but if you are planning a long-term relationship with someone, you accept that you may pay for them if something happens to their health, job, etc.  (And if you have kids, share in raising them.)  So it's concerning to me how you phrase it and want to avoid responsibility.  Marriage (and even long-term relationships) are about accepting responsibility for each other.

I am fine accepting responsibility for those other things, and already do help her out financially when she gets in a jam. But she is perfectly capable of getting an education without me paying for it, especially with the grant money. She wouldn't want me to pay for it anyway. I just think she should take advantage of the grants by not marrying me until later, if we do. Didn't mean to imply that I am not responsible for her at all.  I am also planning on giving her a break on the living costs when she starts to pay back her student loans, so in a way I will still be helping with her education. We probably will have a kid or two, and I will strive to be the best dad! Thanks for your input.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 09:18:35 PM by Josh »

Nords

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #43 on: August 30, 2013, 09:45:42 PM »
I think it's fair that she pay half of the living expenses when she can afford to. When she's not able to because of tuition or other expenses I don't expect her to.
Speaking from a few decades of experience & hindsight:
1.  You seem to think that you have a vote in this decision.
2.  Your discussions are putting a price on the relationship.
3.  The way these money discussions proceed now is a very good harbinger of how your marriage will proceed later... especially when the kids arrive.

Anyone know what happens in CA if you enter a marriage with a mortgage? I know property acquired before marriage is separate, but I would be using my after marriage wages to pay for it. What are the protections of marriage some of you speak of? I thought legally each person gets half of everything, which sounds bad for me.
The conventional answer for this situation is "prenup".  If that vocabulary word causes the discussion to turn contentious, it's an indication that you should consider pre-marriage counseling.  I don't think counseling will resolve the issues (although that would be a bonus), but it'll help you guys to develop good ways to discuss the situation.

The really good news is that you're having these discussions before the marriage.  Imagine if these issues cropped up after the honeymoon...

bikebum

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #44 on: August 30, 2013, 10:20:17 PM »
1.  You seem to think that you have a vote in this decision.

Don't I?

2.  Your discussions are putting a price on the relationship.

I think it's better to talk about these things than not. Are you just wanting me to be aware of that? I think the price is there whether a couple talks about these things or not. If we don't work out something we are both happy with, at least one of us is going to be upset later.

Thanks for your input.

Kira

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #45 on: August 30, 2013, 10:58:48 PM »
I paid rent to my boyfriend for four years. Then we got married. Now I pay rent to my husband. If you've only owned the house for less than a year, the amount of principal her rent payments are paying off is pretty laughable. I did note that you said one of her relatives talked her into the idea that she's somehow getting screwed by this.. was this perhaps an extension on the "getting the milk for free" theory?

I also see that you're worried about what will happen if you're together a long time and she never had the opportunity to buy her own house. Well, given that you're giving her a discount, she's going to earn more later, etc, why can't she? She can buy an investment house on her own. And then she can decide if she's giving money back to those renters because they're paying down her mortgage.

Nords

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #46 on: August 30, 2013, 11:53:51 PM »
1.  You seem to think that you have a vote in this decision.
Don't I?
I'm going to go out on a limb here and speculate that there's a lack of long-term marital experience.

You're the homeowner.  You have the power.  Even "worse", you're the guy in a male-dominated society. 

She has the choice to either voluntarily pay some of the expenses (whatever you call them and however they're divided) or she has the choice to voluntarily move out.  Anything you do from your side could be interpreted as coercive, no matter how objective or rational you may think you're being.  (Engineers are notorious for making this mistake, although I don't want to get into how I learned that.)  Her interpretation is what counts.  If you're offering suggestions on what she should do (especially if those suggestions are based on your holding the deed to her lodging) then you're removing the "voluntarily" part of the equation. 

On the other hand if you're saying "I'm just happy to have you here, honey, and however you want to help out on the expenses would be great", then you're restoring the "voluntarily" part.  Let her put the onus on herself (or not) instead of casting yourself as the authority figure.  Her subsequent behavior will give you a lot of indicators about the strength of your relationship.

Whether or not you actually have a vote is irrelevant to the situation.  As soon as you exercise your right to vote, you lose the election.

2.  Your discussions are putting a price on the relationship.
I think it's better to talk about these things than not. Are you just wanting me to be aware of that? I think the price is there whether a couple talks about these things or not. If we don't work out something we are both happy with, at least one of us is going to be upset later.
Yes, all of those statements are correct.

Like I said, pre-marital counseling won't necessarily work these things out.  You guys still have to do that on your own.  However pre-marital counseling will help you both develop your own way of discussing your shared problems in a manner that avoids confrontation or defensiveness while encouraging compromise.  I think that last sentence comes right out of the "Intro to Pre-Marital Counseling" study guide.

bikebum

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #47 on: August 31, 2013, 12:04:41 AM »
Nords you are making a lot of sense. Thanks for breaking it down in a way I understand. So far our communication is great, but I will remember what you said about the counseling helping with that. BTW, I'm a civil engineer.

Nords

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #48 on: August 31, 2013, 12:19:24 AM »
BTW, I'm a civil engineer.
My daughter's in her senior year of that degree program, and she's hoping to be a U.S. Navy submarine nuclear engineer.  For some reason she thinks I made the nuclear engineering part look cool.  It will be absolutely fascinating to see what type of guy she cuts out of the herd to be her spouse.  For all I know she's burned through them by now.

I think engineers do best in marriage if they pretend that they have no idea how to handle the relationship and take all of their cues from their spouse's behavior.  I'd especially suggest never ever sharing helpful household tips with your spouse like the most efficient way to dense-pack a dishwasher or the optimal first-in/first-out storage systems for the fridge & pantry.  But again I don't want to get into how I learned that.

A friend of mine on another forum was in this house-sharing situation as the homeowner.  (She's also an engineer.)  At some point their relationship ended, and during the breakup he suggested that all of his years of contributions toward the housing expenses meant that he had purchased a portion of the home's equity.  He actually hired a lawyer.  She ended up showing them both her years of Quicken records to document that he'd paid his share of the utility & grocery bills but not the mortgage.  The lawyer agreed that his client might not have a case.

icefr

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Re: Share ownership of my house with girlfriend?
« Reply #49 on: August 31, 2013, 08:10:03 AM »
I think engineers do best in marriage if they pretend that they have no idea how to handle the relationship and take all of their cues from their spouse's behavior.  I'd especially suggest never ever sharing helpful household tips with your spouse like the most efficient way to dense-pack a dishwasher or the optimal first-in/first-out storage systems for the fridge & pantry.  But again I don't want to get into how I learned that.

What if your SO is also an engineer? (I'm a woman and a software engineer.)

A friend of mine on another forum was in this house-sharing situation as the homeowner.  (She's also an engineer.)  At some point their relationship ended, and during the breakup he suggested that all of his years of contributions toward the housing expenses meant that he had purchased a portion of the home's equity.  He actually hired a lawyer.  She ended up showing them both her years of Quicken records to document that he'd paid his share of the utility & grocery bills but not the mortgage.  The lawyer agreed that his client might not have a case.

Wow, see that is exactly why I'm so scared of renting to a SO that I honestly would prefer not to until I am incredibly confident that I am going to marry the guy and/or the mortgage is paid off so there's no way he could contribute to principal. What about though if his contribution covers parts of the property taxes and HOA dues? Or is it really just the utility and grocery bills that are safe?